Surfing is a religion. But for those of us who are less fanatical, surfing also offers some totally radical health benefits.
Surfing is a Religion.
Every morning millions of wave worshippers around the world wake at sunrise to scout the ocean–searching for that perfect break, for that ultimate rush, for the chance to become one with the awesome power of the sea.
But for those of us who are less fanatical about the psychological pull of the blue juice, surfing also offers some totally radical fitness benefits.
Surf’s Up… and So is Your Heart Rate
You may wonder what’s so difficult about surfing. You simply stand on a plank, let the waves push you along, and enjoy the ride, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Surfing is a physically demanding recreational sport and offers cardiovascular exercise, as well as an intense upper body and core workout. From the moment you enter the ocean, you’re fighting for balance and control.
Surfer Keith Cavelli has been riding waves for 22 years, but he still respects the power of the ocean: “Surfing is by far one of the most difficult sports there is. You have to balance on a small piece of moving foam and fibreglass on surf that is constantly changing,” he says in an online health resource in Australia.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll spend a lot more time setting yourself up to catch a wave than actually riding one. Paddling out past the break will not only get your heart pumping, but will also strengthen your arms, shoulders, and back muscles.
You then have to chase the swells to position yourself–more intense paddling. Once you jump up on the board, a different set of muscles are required. Your legs, lower back muscles, and abdominals will feel the burn as you try to stay ahead of a breaking wave or turn into the crest to gather speed.
Catching the Surfing Bug
Surfing isn’t for beach bums who like to smear on the SPF 45 sunscreen and stretch out on the sand. On your board in the water, you’ll have so much fun that you won’t want to leave. Before you know it, hours will go by. If you start surfing regularly, you’ll enjoy increased endurance and energy.
At this point you may be eagerly planning a surfing trip to your closest coastline (or to the surfing Mecca of Hawaii). But before you go, a little cross-training is a good idea. Yoga is an excellent way to develop the flexibility you’ll need. Long-distance running, swimming, or biking also provide great preparation for surfing because they improve endurance. In the gym, use weight lifting to develop power and symmetry.
If you’re the kind of person who can’t jog on the treadmill for more than 10 minutes without quitting from sheer boredom, then you’ll enjoy surfing. Who knows? You may even start to understand why so many surfers feel that sublime connection to the water, the way Cavelli does.
“You’re totally removed from the rest of life back on land,” he says. “You become part of the ultimate body of fluid, the most dynamic thing on earth. You’re part of the waves, the rips, the fish, the sand, the little drops of water. It’s an ocean thing.”
Reiki for Surfers
After a hard day out on the ocean, you might need some recovery and healing time. Reiki is a great complement to surfing because it accelerates the body’s self-healing abilities. This non-invasive technique, which comes from Japan, involves the gentle placing of hands in a sequence of positions over the whole body. Here are some additional benefits:
- Creates deep relaxation and helps release tension
- Reduces blood pressure
- Helps relieve pain
- Adjusts the energy flow of the endocrine system
- Supports the immune system
- Increases energy levels